The second of the Five Remembrances in Buddhism as taught by the Venerable Thich Nhat Hanh states, “I am of the nature to have ill health. There is no way to escape ill health.”
Ill health can be anything from the common cold to cancer, or in my most recent situation, injury.
On October 2nd 2010 I was setting up my drumset in a confined space. When I stood, my back was stiff. I gave it little thought since these things happen from time to time and I usually recover relatively quickly, and a few days later I thought recovery was near. However, the stiffness became pain which worsened and by the morning of the 17th, it was excruciating! I placed a call to the chiropractor I sometimes see and left a message on his answering machine. I then e-mailed my friends who do Reiki and asked for some positive vibes and good Mojo.
By my second visit to the chiropractor on October 19, it was determined that I had sprained a disk in my back but total recovery is expected. It is important to note that this sprain was deemed “minor” by the chiropractor.
Although I am advised against sitting to avoid compression, my life is only temporarily inconvenienced by this.
When I think of the many people I know or have known who have been in serious pain, I cannot help but think of how unpleasant their lives must have been. Yet, the majority of these people put on a cheerful smile and went on with their lives. There are of course, exceptions, but I am amazed at those who managed to be happy and cheerful despite their pain.
When my chiropractor said it was a “mild” sprain, I commented that I couldn’t even imagine what a serious sprain must feel like… or anything else such as a deteriorating disk or cancer. Having watched my Father and a few friends grow weak and pass away from cancer I can attest to the pain and suffering they experienced.
What always strikes me when I become ill or injured is how much we seem to take for granted when we are well. Because I am advised at this time against sitting, I spend my time either standing or lying flat with my legs straight. Simple tasks such as putting on socks or tying shoes can be a challenge. Earlier today, I had to squat to retrieve an item from the cupboard and bending my knees was such a pleasant relief. Then I think of Darcy, the guitarist/vocalist in the band I play with who spent several months in a cast for a broken leg and I realize my situation is not bad at all.
While we are all concerned with our own problems, it is probably quite all right to be. Each of us is the one who has to live within our own skin. Many people have experienced the same back pain as I have, but we each experience it differently, from our own unique personal perspective. Others have had broken legs, but have experienced that differently than Darcy has. Others have had cancer and have experienced it differently than Dad did.
We all can also choose to be better prepared to deal with illness and/or injury. With proper diet, exercise, and lifestyle choices we can prevent damage, recover more easily from damage, or have less severe damage. My chiropractor mentioned that I have flexible hamstrings (I always thought they weren’t) and I attribute that to all the cycling I have done in the past five months. I’m sure that will be a factor in my recovery time and could perhaps also have prevented the injury from being far worse than it was.
Since the chiropractor is also a Yoga practitioner and former Yoga teacher, I am going to ask him to prescribe some stretches I can incorporate into my daily life in order to keep flexible. A little weight lifting is probably a good idea too, and certainly adjusting my diet to reduce foods that contribute to inflammation will be taken into consideration.
And, if my recovery is not complete, I will adapt. Pain and suffering can be great motivators in learning to do the things we have always done in new and different ways.
Finally, since we have just recently celebrated the Canadian Thanksgiving, I will give thanks for being as healthy as I am. As the old saying goes, “I was sad because I had no shoes until I met a man that had no feet.”